Franz Werfel: A Life in Prague, Vienna, and Hollywood

Peter Stephan Jungk, Author, Anselm Hollo, Translator Grove/Atlantic $24.95 (318p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1097-8
Czech-born playwright, novelist and poet Werfel (1890-1945) is perhaps best remembered for his novel The Song of Bernadette , about the Lourdes miracle, and The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, a historical novel about the Turks' genocide of Armenians. This intermittently engrossing biography, which never fully brings its subject into focus, includes candid details of Werfel's courtship of Alma Mahler-Gropius (widow of the famous composer, ex-wife of the Bauhaus architect), of their marriage and of her outspoken anti-Semitism. Werfel's alienation from his own Jewishness, interpreted by some as self-loathing, is explained by Jungk as largely due to indifference. Early chapters delineate his youthful friendships with Franz Kafka and Max Brod. In 1938 he and Alma fled Nazi-occupied Vienna, and later escaped Vichy France to settle in Los Angeles. Jungk, an American based in Paris, unnecessarily pads the narrative with italicized interludes consisting of interviews that would have been better integrated into the text. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 318 pages - 978-0-88064-130-2
Hardcover - 452 pages - 978-3-10-091026-4
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